INTRODUCTION: The Failure to Get Results
As a coach, it’s one of the most sited problems in the workplace today….the lack of execution. It seems that people just can’t seem to get the job done. Somehow the organization survives, limping along, upsetting customers due to the lack of delivery, losing customers due to the perceived lack of caring, losing the best employees because they are sick of the mediocrity, and keeping mediocre employees because they have no ambition to be better.
What’s a business owner to do? Yelling, stress, and barking orders may cause a few people to get something done today, but who wants to live their life stressed out and chasing people day after day?
To get your team to consistently execute, there is a fundamental shift of culture necessary. It’s about defining your values. First, mediocrity must no longer be acceptable. Excellence is a non-negotiable requirement. You get what you accept. You must declare your organization as a place of excellence. For sure, the declaration will be incongruent with the current practice, but you must begin with the end in mind. Just trying to clean up weak performance and neglect by increased policing without a fundamental change of thinking doesn’t sustain.
Once you declare excellence, here are six key components of team execution.
KEY COMPONENT #1: A Committed Leadership Team
This shift of culture begins with a heart-to-heart conversations with each member of your leadership team to determine what they REALLY want. If it is anything less than excellence, you must call on them to step up or step out. This is a personal choice and commitment for each leadership team member that only they can make. As their leader, you must confront this challenge if there is going to a true change. Committed leadership is the foundation for getting results. The organization follows its leaders. This call to commitment may result in certain partners leaving the business. For the organization to thrive, the leadership team must be on the same page and have a shared passion, vision and commitment to excellence. If you don’t begin here, then the rest of the team will sense the hypocrisy. Eventually, your best people will leave, and mediocre people will stay and complain instead of work. Great people follow great leaders.
Once the leadership is established and committed to excellence, you are ready to begin the work of transforming your organization into a place of amazing beauty and excellence.
KEY COMPONENT #2: Defined Roles and Responsibilities
Once you have taken back ownership and have a committed leadership team, you need to clearly define all roles and responsibilities. An accountability chart is a tool to get this clarity. It is an organizational chart on steroids. Every team position is assigned three to five most important priorities. Each of those priorities must be defined, clarified, and communicated in writing to each team member.
What you will discover as you define roles and responsibilities is redundancy and gaps. Positions may need to be modified and redefined to cover all the bases. Every business has three basic areas of need. #1. A business needs to acquire work (Marketing and Sales), #2 get the work done (Operations), and #3 collect money and pay expenses (Administration and Finance). There must be a qualified leader that is accountable for each of these three main functions. There also must be a single leader accountable for bottom line results that integrates these three functions. Every team member needs to be assigned a functional role (or roles) that is directly accountable to one of the three main functional leaders.
For the business to run like a well-oiled machine, each team member’s key role and responsibilities must be defined clearly and succinctly in writing. Then each member must commit to the specific tasks and responsibilities connected to their role. They must understand each responsibility (GET IT), have a desire to do perform each responsibility (WANT IT), and have the ability and time to execute each responsibility (CAPACITY).
Assigning positions and accountabilities is an objective process driven by function, not personalities. It is helpful to get an objective outside person to facilitate the process.
KEY COMPONENT #3: Defined Outcomes
What does your “mission accomplished” look like? What exactly are you trying to achieve? Can every member of your team clearly describe the successful completion of the mission? If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to know when you get there?
Hard work is not the only key to success. People can be busy accomplishing nothing. It’s the hamster on the wheel. Round and round. Run, run, run. But where is the little fellow going? Nowhere!
As the leader, it is your responsibility to define the mission and paint the picture of a successful outcome. It is also your responsibility to be sure that each member of your team sees and understands the mission and their role in fulfilling the mission, and a clear picture of mission accomplished.
Barking orders, assigning tasks and trying to control behavior without a clearly defined outcome is an exercise in confusion. You need to schedule significant conversations with your leadership team to determine if they grasp the mission. Asking questions about the mission and listening to their answers will help you get on track as a team with a common outcome.
Once you effectively communicate the mission and vision to each member, your team will come together and share an amazing feeling of productivity and purpose.
KEY COMPONENT #4: The Score Card
Consider the root of the word accountable. It is count. Objective, numerical measurement is the basis of accountability. The team needs to see how they are doing, day by day. They need an objective tool to measure progress…..a scorecard.
The leadership team, working with the crew, needs to determine a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that display at a glance what has been accomplished. Health professionals measure vital signs to assess the overall condition of a patient. For your team to play the game well, they need to know the score.
It is important to distinguish outcome numbers (like typical financial report numbers) from process numbers (like sales conversion rates, lead generation, units produced, revenue collected). People need not only need to know how they did in the past (outcomes), but how they are doing in the present (process). Many coaches/consultants recommend 5-15 key measurements that are shared with the team on a weekly basis.
Here are some examples of process measurables: weekly revenue, cash balance, sales calls completed, proposals submitted, business closed, current payroll, customer problems, accounts receivable, accounts payable. The more specific the better.
What you measure improves. Measuring and displaying the key numbers provides focus and will improve team performance.
KEY COMPONENT #5: The Action Plan
Another key component of execution is the action plan. In simple terms, it is a simple document that defines WHO does WHAT by WHEN. Once the leader and his team define roles, goals, and a means of measurement, then a simple plan of execution must be created. This is a simple list of task assignments with deadlines.
The moment when a specific task with a deadline is delegated, agreed upon, and accepted, that is the moment of commitment and accountability. The action plan insures that the leader and team have covered all the bases and are ready to act. If every person on the team follows the plan, there will be success and celebration.
Here’s a challenge. The next time you are in a meeting, near the close of the meeting, take out a piece of paper with three columns - Who, What, When, and document your action plan for all present. First, document each step of execution, the actions that must be taken. Place them in the WHAT column. Then assign each step to the appropriate team member (WHO) with an agreed deadline (WHEN) for the completion of that step. It really sounds simple, but it is an effective way to get your team performing and completing projects. A written action plan is the logical conclusion to a successful meeting. If you don’t finish a meeting with who does what by when, it was likely a waste of time.
KEY COMPONENT #6: Regularly Scheduled Follow-Up
The final component of execution is scheduled follow-up. As a business coach, a common complaint that I receive from organizations is the lack of accountability.
In this contemporary climate of social niceness and people pleasing, it seems that leaders are reluctant to hold others accountable for results. In simple terms, holding a person accountable is confronting the lack of performance in a clear, direct, conversation with the purpose of getting refocused and back on track. This can be conducted in a kind but firm demeanor surrounded with mutual respect. There is no need to attack and tear down people when holding them accountable. To produce excellent results, each team member, beginning with the leader, must be committed and take full accountability for the desired outcome.
A way to bring about this level of accountability is through scheduled follow-up conversations. This could be anything from a regular weekly meeting or as simple as a daily morning huddle. What must occur at these meetings is a clear restatement of the goal and the actual result. Either the goal was achieved and completed, or not. This process is not designed to shame team members, but to create an open transparency to improve performance. Everyone has assigned responsibilities in the action plan with associated deadlines. Those responsibilities are either fully executed within the agreed timeframe or not. If they have been completed, celebration is in order. Positive feedback for specific tasks and projects completed is the best way to increase accountability, because what you feed grows. If a team member has not completed a task or project on time, the leader must have a conversation with that team member so that both can understand why failure has occurred and make the appropriate changes. The role of the leader is to work with the team member to attack the problem and failed outcome and establish a remedial action plan.
The consistent follow-up with team members is the key piece that will cause all the other components of execution to work and create results. If you will practice this high level of accountability, you will nurture a culture of high respect and full participation. People who get results feel good and are inspired to continue to work together.
There are six key components needed for team execution: #1 A Committed Leadership Team, #2 Defined Roles and Responsibilities, #3 Defined Outcome, #4 The Score Card, #5 The Action Plan and #6 Scheduled Follow-up. If you’re not getting results, assess each of these key components, and take the appropriate action.